We acknowledge the forecasted population growth for the Wasatch Front, the increasingly poor air quality, and need for a thoughtful public transit system. But the questions also beg: Do Sugar House residents need to be solely responsible for the entire East Bench’s reduction of car pollution? Why have bus routes been reduced along other local east/west corridors? Why do the large buses carry so few passengers; why not use smaller buses? And why isn’t there a proposal to turn the UTA fleet into low emission-only transportation?
Where is the residential and transportation impact study that our neighbors are requesting before a streetcar route is approved?
Little more than one month ago, the fate of our dear neighborhood was decided at the Sugar House Community Council (SHCC) April meeting by about 24 SHCC trustees and government representatives. No prior notice was given for the straw poll they held that night. So, a few of us turned out at the Board of Trustees meeting on May 7 to express our concerns.
Sugar House is special. But don’t tell that to the SHCC trustees who told us not to clap or express our opinions outwardly during the meeting’s 20-minute “Public Comment Period” where a few were granted permission to talk about the biggest concern to address our community in months…which wasn’t even on their agenda!
We were supposed to have known about the agenda. “Don’t you receive our newsletters?” exclaimed SHCC 1st Vice Chair Judi Short. And, “Everything’s posted on our web site.”
By clicking on the “SHCC Development Map” pinhead posted on the SHCC’s main page, what one does find is a mere mention of the “Sugar House Streetcar, developer SLC/UTA; to run along the old rail line along Sugarmont Ave. The streetcar will run from the 300 W Trax station and end at McClelland St.” Who knew it was supposed to end?! News to those of us thrust into a street-against-street fight to keep the ill-conceived extension beyond McClelland off our front lawns.
The Sugar House Master Plan (SHMP) specifically calls out “policies” by which we entrust our SHCC to uphold. Among these is “Evaluate methods to preserve and enhance the character of residential neighborhoods in Sugar House.” The SHMP also defines a “gateway” as a prominent entrance, important since they provide visitors and residents alike their first visual impression of the community. The SHMP also states that “gateway streets (defined by the SHMP as 1100 East and 2100 South) should be visually uncluttered, their views unobstructed,” and that “overhead power transmission lines along streets in gateway and vista areas should be removed.”
Ms. Short and her gang of trustees are quick to tout the benefits a streetcar will bring to the businesses along both 1100 East and 2100 South. Has anyone checked out the Sugar House Business District Proposed Boundary Map? It ends at 1300 East abutting Sugar House Park, and to the north along 1100 East goes no further than Hollywood Ave.
And, what will happen to Sugar House Park? Where will the funds come from to maintain this over-used and well-loved swatch of greenery due to the increased crowds the streetcar is expected to bring? Questions it appears many who live on 2100 South are asking but the Salt Lake Tribune chooses not to: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/56268756-82/east-streetcar-1100-route.html.csp.
Shame on the Salt Lake Tribune Op Ed editorial staff who support one route over the other, baiting Sugar House residents off of one another.
How are any of the current streetcar proposals consistent with the current SHMP? Unless of course there are plans in the works to change the SHMP…maybe we just haven’t received our meeting notice from our respective councilmen yet?
Needless to say, there’s federal grant money that we don’t want to slip through the City’s fingers. It seems for this reason alone—because at the end of the day it really is all about the money—that we’re making such a hasty decision.